Executive Book Club

2 books Warren Buffett recommends reading now

Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.
The India Today Group | Getty Images

Legendary investor Warren Buffett gave a mini history lesson during the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting on Saturday, which was held virtually from Omaha, Nebraska.

"Nothing can basically stop America," not even the coronavirus pandemic, he said. "The American miracle, the American magic has always prevailed and it will do so again."

As Buffett reflected on previous life-changing events from World War II to the Cuban Missile Crisis to 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis, the Berkshire Hathaway chairman also recommended two historical books.

Buffett has always been an avid reader and has recommended that young people read every day, because knowledge "builds up, like compound interest," he said while speaking to a group of MBA students at Columbia Business School in 2000.

Here's Buffett's suggested reading.

'The Great Crash of 1929' by John Kenneth Galbraith

During the shareholders meeting, Buffett spoke of times of great uncertainty in American history, including the stock market crash of 1929 that led to the Great Depression.

For those interested in learning more about this time period, he recommended the 1955 book, "The Great Crash of 1929" by John Kenneth Galbraith.

"There's a great book about it called 'The Great Crash' by John Kenneth Galbraith," he said during the meeting on Saturday. It's "a wonderful book."

In the book, Galbraith examines the 1929 financial collapse, including what led to it, how it led to the Great Depression and what could be learned from it.

(Buffett also told a lighter personal story about the crash and his dad, who was 26 in 1929 and sold stocks. "I think [what] my dad probably liked to do was, they say now, 'shelter in place,' which means stay at home," he said. "And there really wasn't that much in our house. So under those conditions, I was born about nine months later," Buffett, whose birthdate is August 30, 1930, said.)

'Keeping At It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government' by Paul Volcker

At the shareholders meeting, Buffett also spoke about the Federal Reserve System and the role it has played in the economy.

He praised in particular, the late Paul Volcker, who served as the chairman of the Federal Reserve under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

"I've always had Paul Volcker up on a special place, special pedestal in terms of Federal Reserve chairmen over the years. We've had a lot of very good Fed chairmen, but Paul Volcker, I had him at the top of the list," Buffett said.

And Buffett recommended Volcker's 2018 book, "Keeping At It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government," during the meeting on Saturday.

"Not much before [Volcker] died, he wrote a book called 'Keeping At It,'" Buffett said. "I think you'll enjoy reading that book."

The book is a memoir, sharing Volcker's time as chairman of the Fed from 1979 to 1987. It shares a timeline of Volcker's long career, including his legacy of breaking inflation with high interest rates as Fed chief in the 1980s.

"Paul Volcker was a giant in many ways," Buffett said, referring to not only Volcker's huge impact, but his tall stature. (Volcker was 6-foot-7.)

In addition to recommending the books, Buffett gave a shout out to his local bookstore: "If you buy any books that come out of anything I recommend, think about [purchasing through the] Bookworm [book store] in Omaha," he said. 

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